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The Best Bodyweight Upper Body Workout for Beginners

The Best Bodyweight Upper Body Workout for Beginners

This upper body workout is perfect for beginners who want to get started with strength training. It’s an upper body workout without weights. The idea is to begin to build strength and muscle so you can create a strong foundation that will allow you to move on to more challenging workouts.

You supply the resistance in this routine by working against yourself with every motion. We have “Beginner” in the title, but this workout can actually be very effective and challenging. I was very sore for several days after this routine because I tried to push myself to focus on really working against myself, and because of the rarely used ranges of motion compared to more traditional weight training routines.

Bodyweight workout are one of the easiest ways of training at home. You don’t need lots of equipment and you can get a great workout in, without the hassle of heading out to the gym.

Bodyweight workout are simple, effective ways to improve balance, flexibility, and strength without gym machines or equipment. You can do all these bodyweight exercises at home.

Bodyweight workout is when a person uses the weight of his or her body to provide resistance. Bodyweight workout range from basic moves like a push-up to more advanced “flows” that incorporate several movements into one.

For people that think bodyweight workout doesn’t get you strong, look no further than gymnasts and calisthenics athletes. The benefits of bodyweight workout include the fact that it’s specific to your body’s size, it strengthens several muscles at once, develops muscular endurance, improves body control, and there’s less injury risk compared to free weights.

To increase the intensity of bodyweight exercises, you can increase the number of repetitions or change the movement to make it offer more resistance, such as elevating the feet during a push-up.

That said, one piece of equipment you will need to complete the workouts below is a pull-up bar. The pull-up may be a bodyweight workout but it’s not easy to do them without a dedicated bar, unless you happen to have a tree with an ideally-shaped, perfectly-positioned, weight-bearing branch in your garden. If you only have one piece of gym equipment in your home a bar is a solid choice and fortunately pull-up bars are both affordable and still widely available to buy, unlike dumbbells and other free weights.

Try these some bodyweight upper body workout to sculpt your arms, shoulders, and core—mostly those guns, though.

Best Bodyweight Exercises For An Upper Body Workout

Push ups

Push ups

Many people grow up detesting them but push-ups are one of the greatest exercises ever invented based purely on the fact that they are a functional exercise that can be performed anywhere at any time and you only need your body weight to execute them. As an exercise that challenges your strength, power, stability and endurance, push-ups are a full-body exercise that has countless modifications and progressions. By making a few slight adjustments to your hand position, angle of your body and the tempo of the exercise, you can later how the push-up impacts your body and different muscle groups. Often you will find a variety of fitness challenges, either in your gym or maybe even your workplace (emergency services, military) that incorporate a certain amount of push-ups as part of their requirements.

  1. With regards to the most basic form of a push-up, start on your hands and your knees (in a tabletop position).
  2. Place your hands and wrists directly under your shoulders, slightly outside of shoulder width. If you place your hands in line with your head instead of your shoulders, you will more than likely place a lot more pressure on your shoulders and cause potential injury. Extend your legs out behind you (plank style). This is your starting position. Place your feet approximately hip width apart for stability. The closer your feet are together, the more challenging it will be for proper balance.
  3. Make sure your spine stays in neutral position. Imagine a pole running from the back of your head, straight down your neck and back.
  4. Do not look straight down, focus on a spot slightly 2-3 feet out in front of you.
  5. When executing a push-up, it is important to keep your elbows at approximately a 45 degree angle.
  6. The target depth of a traditional push-up is to have your chest approximately a fist height away from the ground on the decline. When you push back up, remember that you want to return to full height. Many people tend to cut their range of motion (one way or the other) short, which stops you from attaining the full benefit of the exercise.
  7. Breathing tips – Breath out during the concentric movement (raising up), breath in during the eccentric movement (lowering down).
  8. Some simple modifications for those who find regular push-ups to be a challenge include, wall push-ups, incline bench push-ups and knee push-ups. For those who have weak wrists or struggle reaching full depth, the option of using push-up bars could be a helpful tool.

Close Grip Push-up

It’s a strong formula for blowing up your triceps, and it helps address one key problem with close-grip pushup form: Very often, people have a tendency to flare their elbows. “You’ll focus on that here,” Samuel says. “The mid-rep pause isn’t just a pause. It’s an opportunity to check in with your body, making sure that glutes and abs are tight and your elbows are close. If they’re flared out, you can always take the opportunity to reset and re-squeeze them together.”

  1. Start in pushup position, glutes squeezed and abs tight, hands slightly narrower than shoulder-width. Your shoulders, elbows, and wrists should be stacked.
  2. Keeping your elbows close to your body, lower into the bottom of a pushup. Press back up. When your upper arms are a bit above parallel to the ground, pause. “Check in with your body now,” says Samuel. “Use this as a chance to reset your form.” Complete the close-grip pushup rep by straightening your arms.
  3. Lower into another close-grip pushup, then drive straight up.
  4. That’s 1 pair of reps. Do 5 to 6 pairs of reps per set. Do 3 sets.

Down Dog to High Plank

This move is a great start to any workout routine because it’s super simple and activates the entire body.

First thing’s first: get into a high plank. Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly below your shoulders. Come up off your knees while straightening your legs out so that your hands and toes are the only points touching the ground. Engage your core to maintain a flat back and keep your tailbone tucked in.

Now, all you have to do from here is shift back into a Downward Dog: allow your hips to press up and back so that your legs are at about 90-degrees to your torso. Make sure you’re pushing away from the floor and maintaining a neutral head (look at the floor, not straight up at your hands). You should look like an upside-down V.

Move back and forth between these two positions to get your body warm and your arms, back, and shoulders ready for an upper body workout. There’s no need to move fast with this or any other exercise; studies show that bodyweight training works even at slow speeds.



Pull ups are a must-have in your routine, period. They provide a huge range of benefits that go far beyond building your back muscles. The movement is also incredibly functional, which is why it’s been used to determine upper body strength and endurance in the militaries across the world. We’ll be covering the muscles used in pull ups, the benefits, how to do a pull up correctly (most people don’t) and pull ups vs chin ups.

  1. Start by standing directly below a pull-up bar. Place your hands in an overhand grip (palms facing away from your body) with your hands slightly further than shoulder-width apart. If you can’t reach the bar from standing on the floor, you can place a box beneath you and stand on that instead. Once your hands are holding onto the bar, you’re in your starting position.
  2. Inhale, then exhale. Lift your feet up from the floor or box so that you’re hanging from the bar, and engage your core by pulling your belly button in toward your spine. Pull your shoulders back and down.
  3. Engaging the muscles in your arms and back, bend your elbows and raise your upper body up toward the bar until your chin is over the bar. You can imagine bringing your elbows toward your hips if that makes the movement easier. As you move, avoid swinging your legs around or shrugging your shoulders up. You want to make sure your shoulder blades remain back and down throughout the exercise.
  4. At the top of the movement, inhale. Then extend your elbows and lower your body back down to the starting position.

Spider-Man Press-Up

Spider-Man Press-Up

Besides their cool name, Spiderman pushups take upper body strength training to the next level. They give you a killer core workout and help protect your lower back. And all you need is a little floor space!

Plus, this exercise is insanely easy to modify—whether you’re a beginner or advanced.

  1. Start in a plank position, your hands slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart, but directly under your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from heels to head.
  2. Tighten your core and begin bending your elbows, so they angle backward at 45-degrees from your body as you lower your chest toward the floor. Inhale as you move through the lowering phase of the exercise.
  3. Pick up your right foot and draw your right knee up and out, so your right knee reaches your elbow just as your chest hovers about an inch or two from the mat.
  4. Reverse the movement, extending your elbows to press up to the plank position as you simultaneously extend your knee and return your right foot to the floor. Exhale as you press yourself back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat to the opposite side, this time bringing your left knee to your left elbow.
  6. When you complete a full set (aim for at least 8-10 pushups, alternating sides), place your knees on the ground and kneel before you move to standing.

Handstand Wall Walk

Handstand wall walks are a great way to not only improve your handstands, but to also build strength in the shoulders, traps and triceps. Your wrists will also get stronger very quickly.
This movement is an intermediate strength training exercise. It works many of the muscle groups, for a full body workout. If you can’t make it to the gym every day, all you need for this exercise is a floor and a wall.
The benefits of the wall walk exercise are

  1. Building stability
  2. Improving balance
  3. Building muscle – specifically the shoulders, triceps, core, chest & legs
  4. Strengthening the core
  1. Assume the handstand position and plant your feet against the wall
  2. Crawl toward the wall until you’ve reached it
  3. Crawl away from the wall, until your feet are near the floor
  4. Re-assume the starting position
  5. Repeat

Incline Push Ups

Incline Push Ups

This simple movement targets the main muscles of the chest, the pectoralis major and minor. In addition to exercising the chest, the incline pushup engages the shoulders (deltoid), arms (triceps) as well a long list of muscles throughout the abs, back, hips, and legs that act as stabilizers and prevent any sagging or arching of the spinal column during the movement. Using a slow and deliberate motion can really engage your core.

Incline pushups are the perfect compromise if you find that a standard pushup is too difficult or you have trouble easily getting down to the floor (and back up again). Incline pushups can allow you to progress from a simple “push away” from a nearly standing position using a wall and then moving to a table, countertop, or sturdy chair, and eventually to a low step or bench.

  1. Stand facing the bench, table, or the edge of a bed.
  2. Place your hands on the edge of the bench just slightly wider than shoulder width. Your arms are straight but elbows are not locked. Align your feet so that your arms and body are completely straight.
  3. Bend your elbows to slowly lower your chest to the edge of the bench while inhaling. Keep your body straight and rigid throughout the movement.
  4. Push your body away from the bench until your elbows are extended, but not locked. Exhale as you push up.
  5. Keep going with slow, steady repetitions.

Bear Crawl

ear crawls strengthen and increase endurance in your arms, shoulders and chest, plus they also improve your total core function and stability – not bad for just one move.

Another muscle that bear crawls target is the serratus anterior. This is an important muscle located on the side of your chest (by your armpit) that assists in respiration by helping to lift the ribs. It also helps to stabilise the shoulder blade when we lift anything up over our heads – whether that’s benching an extra 10lbs or reaching for that forgotten tin of beans from the top cupboard.

• Begin on all fours with hands under shoulders, knees under hips and lifted off the floor
• Keep hips slightly higher than the shoulders, chin tucked in and head in a neutral position
• As you reach with the right arm, reach with the left foot so opposite arm and leg work together
• Breathe out each time your foot and hand land on the floor
• Keep the hips even as much as possible throughout the movement
• Begin with very small steps until you develop the correct movement and coordination

Loaded Beast Shoulder Taps

The “Loaded Beast” comes from an emerging type of workout called Animal Flow. Animal Flow is low to the ground and mimics the way animals move. The idea is to connect with our bodies to make them more strong, mobile and coordinated.
One of the basic moves of Animal Flow is the Loaded Beast. This actually looks a lot like the prep we just went over for push-ups. Get on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders, knees under your hips, and toes on the floor. Now, take all of the weight off of your knees and into your toes so that your knees are hovering a few inches off the ground (while still bent). Now you’re in position.
From here, all you have to do is tap your shoulders (one at a time) with the opposite hand. Seems simple, right?
But here’s the catch: you can’t move the rest of your body. You’ll have to activate all of your muscles to keep still—talk about feeling the burn.

Inverted Row

Inverted Row

The inverted row is another name for bodyweight rows. It’s also known as an Australian pullup. We’re not exactly sure where that name comes from, but it could have something to do with your body placement when performing the move, which is “down under” the bar.

  1. Stand in front of a squat rack or Smith machine.
  2. Set the bar to the desired setting. Start with waist height. This will allow your arms to fully extend while keeping your body off the floor.
  3. Get under the bar and lie down. Look up at the ceiling.
  4. Reach up for the bar. Your arms should be fully extended so you can grab the bar with an overhand grip. Your body will be suspended or just off the floor, with your heels being the only thing in contact with the floor.
  5. Contract your core muscles and glutes to brace the lower back and keep your body in a straight line from your torso to your feet.
  6. Pull yourself up, leading with your chest. The bar or rings should be at chest height at the top of the movement. Your body should remain straight and glutes and core tight throughout the entire movement. The bar doesn’t need to touch your chest. Get it as close as possible.
  7. Pause for a second and make sure the shoulder blades are retracted (imagine squeezing a small ball between the shoulder blades) before slowly lowering to the starting position, with your arms fully extended.
  8. Repeat. Do 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps.

Pike Press-Up

Pike Press-Up

The Pike Push Ups is a variation of the traditional push up that is perfect for improving shoulder strength and practice for the handstand push up. It also recruits the core muscles for keeping the body in pike position.

This exercise has some variations as it can ve performed on the ground on placing the feet in a higher place such as a box or platform. The higher you place your feet, the harder the exercise will be, as it will be more similar to the handstand push up and the body weight will be resting over the shoulders.

  1. Start in a plank position on the floor, with hands firmly on the floor, right under your shoulders. Press toes firmly into the floor too.
  2. Keep core tight and back flat and engage your glutes and hamstrings. Your whole body should be neutral and in a straight line.
  3. Lift hips up and back until your body forms an inverted V shape. Keep arms and legs as straight as possible.
  4. Start to bend elbows, and then lower your entire upper body toward the floor.
  5. Stay there for a moment, then slowly push back up until your arms are straight and you’re in the inverted V position. Make sure you maintain control throughout the movement.

Diamond Push-Up

Diamond push-ups, also known as triangle push-ups, are a more advanced variation of the classic push-up. Practice diamond push-ups by bringing your hands close together to form a diamond or triangle shape below your chest. Keep your back and legs in a straight line and push yourself off the ground.

  1. Begin in a regular push-up position, on all fours with your legs extended straight out behind you. Your hands should come together to form a diamond shape on the ground. This means that the tips of the index fingers and thumbs will be touching.
  2. The diamond should be directly below the chest, and your back should be straight.
  3. Inhale, and slowly descend into a push-up, keeping the elbows tight to the body.
  4. Just before your chest touches the floor, exhale and push yourself back up to the starting position.

Tricep Dips

The triceps dip is one of the most effective exercises for activating the triceps muscles in your upper arm. Additionally, you must activate your core as you hold your hips off the ground. The triceps are used for pushing, and you will engage them in any daily activities that require pushing.That being said, you want to keep your body in balance. If you participate in sports that use a lot of pulling action, you want to maintain strength in your triceps in order to prevent injury and muscle imbalances.

  1. Sit on a bench, box, ledge, chair, or step.
  2. Grip the front edge of the platform with hands just outside your hips, with fingers facing down.
  3. Lift yourself up so your bum is hovering over the edge of the platform.
  4. Step out so your legs are mostly straight. Then, think about screwing your little toe into the floor to engage quads and glutes.
  5. Tighten your midline by “hiding” your ribs from the ceiling, pull shoulders down away from ears, and lock your arms.
  6. Inhale as you lower toward the floor, bending elbows straight back. Looking straight ahead, continue lowering until your biceps and forearm form a 90-degree angle (or as soon as you feel a little pull in your pecs or shoulders — whichever comes first).
  7. Keeping midline tight, exhale as you push yourself back up to return to the starting position.

Towel Wring

How to do it: Hold a thick towel with both hands a few inches away from the ends. Twist the towel repeatedly until it gets so tight it can no longer be twisted. Twist the towel in the other direction until it can’t be twisted anymore. Do this for three sets of ten reps in each direction.

Forearm Plank

One of the beautiful things about yoga is the opportunity to allow your body to discover. When choosing an ab exercise, you really can’t go wrong with Forearm Planks. They are a functional movement that trains the abs to support the spine in day-to-day activities. If you are looking for a pose that soothes the chaos, brings a greater sense of concentration, and pushes you to live your intentions off the mat, then Forearm Plank is just what you need.

  1. Start lying face down on the floor with your forearms flat on the ground. Make sure that your elbows are directly under the shoulders.
  2. Fire up the core and raise your body up off the ground.
  3. Engage your core and keep your body in a straight line- avoid letting your hips rise or drop.
  4. Breathe and hold.

Star Plank

Star Plank

Star Plank strengthens your obliques and entire core. Star Plank not only builds strength in your shoulder and arm, but deep contraction in your oblique muscle and hip. If you learn how to do Star Plank you will have a great new isometric core strength move.

  1. Begin in a side plank position with right arm straight below right shoulder and legs long with feet stacked.
  2. Reach top arm and leg up and hold, squeezing abdominals.
  3. Stay for desired amount of time and switch sides.

Clap Push-Up

Pushing movement requires strength in chest and triceps. The clap push ups are a advance version of basic push ups. Often we think that, only bench press or barbell exercise is the only way to improve your explosive strength.

In reality, traditional push ups are the best way to improve your pushing strength. This exercise often used in martial arts training to improve upper body strength.

If you really want to improve your speed and power, then you should add clap pushup in your workout for maximum benefits.

  1. Assume the push-up position
  2. Slowly lower to the ground, keeping your back straight and core tight
  3. Push yourself up explosively
  4. Clap your hands before landing back into the starting position
  5. Repeat

Decline Push Ups

The main benefit of doing decline pushups is building strong upper chest muscles.

In a decline pushup, your arms push up and away from your torso.

This movement works your upper pecs and the muscles in your shoulders.

When done regularly, decline pushups will help increase your overall upper-body strength. A strong upper body is essential for everyday activities like lifting groceries and carrying a backpack.

  1. Start in front of the elevated surface on all fours. With fingers facing forward and splayed slightly, press palms into the floor. Hands should be shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
  2. Carefully extend one leg back to prop one foot at a time onto an elevated surface with legs fully extended. Straighten elbows and engage core, so body forms a long line from top of head to heels. This is your starting position.
  3. Next, inhale deeply and bend elbows to lower chest towards floor with control until arms form 90-degree angles. Keep neck neutral and eyes gazing just past fingertips.
  4. From here, exhale and push through hands to extend arms and return to starting position. That’s one rep.



The burpee is a true full-body exercise, working most major muscle groups while also improving your cardiovascular fitness, and testing your balance and co-ordination. If you could only do one exercise for the rest of your life, the burpee would be a smart pick for keeping you in the best shape possible.

  1. Start in a standing position. Bend your knees to a squatting position and place your hands flat on the ground in front of you.
  2. Jump your legs straight out behind you and leave them there. You’ll be in a push-up position at this point. Make sure you bring your chest to the ground.
  3. Jump your legs back in so you’re in a squatting position again.
  4. Then, stand back up.

Prone Back Extension

Sure, anyone can do a reverse hyper on a machine, but the tension is most times inadequate for serious muscle development. One thing trainers won’t tell you: the higher amount of tension a muscle is put under, the stronger it responds (So harder contractions mean more muscle).

The prone back extension certainly creates a huge, deep contraction more in line with your natural back motion, helping you forge a strong, healthy lower back.

Side Plank

Side Plank

The primary muscles used are the obliques, along with the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus to stabilize the hips. Your shoulder stabilizers keep you aligned as well. This exercise doesn’t put pressure on your lower back or neck as many core exercises do. In pregnancy, the side plank is preferred as it places less stress on the center abdominal muscles. It is a balancing exercise and you will be building your balance and coordination. This exercise can help you be able to sustain good posture and ease of movement by building a strong core and better balance.

  1. Lie on your right side, legs extended and stacked from hip to feet. The elbow of your right arm is directly under your shoulder. Ensure your head is directly in line with your spine. Your left arm can be aligned along the left side of your body.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles, drawing your navel toward your spine.
  3. Lift your hips and knees from the mat while exhaling. Your torso is straight in line with no sagging or bending. Hold the position.
  4. After several breaths, inhale and return to the starting position. The goal should be to hold for 60 seconds. Change sides and repeat.

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